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Hands-on Gear Review

Black Diamond Bullet Review

Climbing Backpack

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Price:   Varies from $45 - $60 online  —  Compare at 4 sellers
Pros:  Durable, sleek, stylish
Cons:  Uncomfortable shoulder straps, no external carrying options
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Black Diamond


In our previous small climbing daypack review, the old version of the Black Diamond Bullet won the Editors' Choice award. Back then we praised its durability and streamlined exterior. The new Bullet is even stronger and sleeker than its predecessor. It's also got many of the features we're looking for in a climbing daypack: a removable hip belt, removable foam back panel, and an emergency whistle. However, the competition has caught up and now surpasses this pack in overall utility. The Bullet's exterior lacks anchor points to enable you to carry a rope or gear on the outside for approaches or descents. And even though it's the most streamlined pack reviewed—with a special flap to tuck the shoulder straps inside—it lacks a reliable way to backup its single grab loop for hauling. In addition, we heard universal complaints about the shoulder straps which seem prone to sliding off during any athletic movement.

We feel gratitude towards the Bullet because it popularized many of the features we love that are now ubiquitous on rock climbing daypacks. Nonetheless, we're forced by several glaring problems in the current version to steer shoppers towards today's well-rounded, Editors' Choice winner, the Patagonia Linked Pack 16L, or other options in The Best Rock Climbing Daypack Review.

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Jack Cramer
Review Editor

Last Updated:
January 9, 2016
The updated version of the Black Diamond Bullet features a streamlined exterior and casual styling. It is undeniably well made and durable.

Performance Comparison

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Testing the BD Bullet high above the Crooked River, Smith Rock State Park, OR.


Stock from the factory this bag weighs just over a pound, 17.6 ounces. This places it towards the top of climbing daypacks whose weights ranged from 12.0 to 20.3 oz. You can remove the foam back-panel and hip belt to subtract an additional 1.9 oz, making its lightest possible configuration at 15.7 oz, slightly heavier than the stock Patagonia Linked.


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The hauling possibilities on the BD Bullet are limited. It is the only pack with a flap for tucking in the shoulder straps. This would be great because it completely streamlines the bag for hauling, but the shoulder straps have to be disconnected to do this which leaves you no convenient way to backup its single haul loop.
The greatest quality of the Black Diamond Bullet is its durability. This is the result of not only robust materials but a streamlined design unlikely to snag in chimneys or constrictions. It is composed of burly, 1260 denier, ballistics-grade nylon on the base and a 460d nylon body. The exterior zippers for the main body and accessory pocket are the largest and strongest used for any climbing daypack tested. Its shoulder straps can also be tucked inside a flap to prevent wear when hauling. However, we caution against hauling without backing up its single haul loop. For this non-redundant haul attachment we subtracted a point, but we still consider this bag the most durable reviewed.

Packed Size

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The streamlined exterior of the BD Bullet helps it slide easily up chimneys when tagged off a harness.
Even though this pack claims only a 16 liter capacity, it feels even smaller. The shape is simple and compact while the absence of external straps or daisy chains further streamlines its profile. It's hard to imagine a pack better designed for wearing or tagging inside a tight chimney, and the possibility of snagging a branch on the approach trail is practically nil.

Climbing Utility

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There really isn't any way to attach a rope or helmet to the sleek exterior of the BD Bullet.
The design of this bag gives it both strengths and weaknesses in climbing utility. Like we've mentioned before, this pack is sleek so it's sure to slide past any snag. And this feature arguably makes it the best bag for the actual act of climbing. However, the lack of external straps or even a daisy chain means that there's no way to attach extra gear or a rope to the outside. For many of our testers who enjoy climbing carry-over multi-pitch routes, this is one of the most important features of a climbing backpack—the ability to carry a rope, helmet, large cams, or other awkward objects on outside during the approach and descent. Other packs, like the Patagonia Linked and Mountain Hardwear Hueco 20, were able to offer this option while still coming with fairly smooth exteriors.


In the same way that climbing utility is limited by the lack of external carry options, so too is overall versatility. We like the Bullet's stylish exterior for everyday uses like going to class or toting your laptop to a coffee shop. It's also great for other activities like biking, caving, or skiing where you wouldn't want to carry anything on the outside. Yet its small overall capacity limits its potential use as a mountaineering summit pack—perhaps the most popular secondary purpose of a rock climbing backpack.


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Our biggest complaint about the BD Bullet is the wide shoulder straps. No matter the size or build of the tester these always seemed to be slipping off their shoulders.
The only bag to receive frequent complaints about comfort was the Bullet. The back panel and hip belt are adequate. The problem is the shoulder straps, which many felt were too wide set. During climbing or any other athletic movement these straps are prone to sliding off the shoulder. Even the broadly built, 6'3" author complained. This problem can of course be remedied by keeping the chest strap fastened and tight. However, this solution isn't ideal because it can inhibit breathing or accidentally pin down a shoulder length runner while placing desperate protection.

Best Applications

This pack's compact construction and durability make it ideal for actual rock climbing. Its small capacity probably limits its use for most climbers to shorter objectives, completable within 8 hours or less. We don't recommend it for carry-overs or marathon days.


At $54.95 MSRP, this is the second lowest-priced bag we tested. As long as shoppers understand and are comfortable with its limitations, it could be a potentially great deal.


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The BD Bullet is fine for strenuous multi-pitch routes without a carry over. Just make sure you keep the sternum strap clipped. Seen Here on Positive Vibes, The Incredible Hulk, California.
Two crucial qualities undermined the Bullet's performance in this review: the lack of external carrying options and shoulders straps prone to sliding off. These deficiencies force us to suggest that anyone seeking a climbing daypack consider the other options first.

Other Versions and Accessories

Today's Bullet comes in one size in red, yellow, or black. The older version was the Editors' Choice winner in our previous review and could be a great find used or on sale.
Jack Cramer

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: January 9, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

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Eastern Mountain Sports $59.95
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